Riley takes silver at Pan-Am

By Gus Bode

SIU hammer thrower breaks own record

Brittany Riley doesn’t usually wear a lot of jewelry, but that shouldn’t stop her from sporting her new bling around campus:A silver medal from the Pan American Games.

Riley, who has only been throwing the hammer since October, broke the SIU record and came close to breaking the American record with her 195-11 throw Sunday afternoon at the games in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.


“I am really happy that I won the silver metal, but I wish I could have thrown a little better,” Riley said.

When Riley said a little better, she meant 201 feet, the Junior American record, which she missed by a mere 5 feet, 1 inch.

Despite the fact that she was not able to break the American record, she did break SIU’s previous record of 192-1, which she set earlier this spring.

The Flossmoor native finished second behind Cuban native, Aras Tondike, who threw 212-7.

Throwing coach John Smith said he attributes Riley’s silver medal to her grit and determination, but also to her new throwing style.

Smith said athletes are allowed one to four turns during competition. During the track and field season, she was only using one turn.

Smith said he had her try two turns at the USA track and field championships in June, and she took first place.


“We tried to incorporate one more turn and it helped out greatly,” Smith said.

Riley, who sounded modest for someone who is the best woman’s hammer thrower, for her age, in the United States, said when Smith added two more turns to her form, it helped her add 20 feet to her throws.

“I’m definitely going to stick with this new form since it worked so well for me,” Riley said.

Smith, who was part of two national championship teams during his college career at the Ohio State University, said Riley is throwing like she wants to be part of something big.

Smith said athletes, like Riley, who participate on junior teams, move on and have success at the senior level.

“Although there is a future here for her, you only think one step at a time,” Smith said. “And that is what Brittany is doing.”

Riley ended the track season this spring by earning All-Missouri Conference honors in both the indoor weight throw and hammer. She also qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships.

Reporter Matthew McConkey can be reached at [email protected]